PODCAST: What We’re Fighting For: A Glimpse 20 Years Down the Road

by | Apr 20, 2023 | Podcasts | 33 comments

What We're Fighting For
Merchandise is Here!

Where do we go from here? And what will happen if we don’t change?

Those are the questions we’re asking in today’s podcast, as we’re celebrating the launch of our new book She Deserves Better! It launched on Tuesday and it is selling SO WELL (thank you, everyone!). 

Today Rebecca and I start by looking at what we want the authors we’re critiquing to do, and also we give you some encouragement about what to do now that you can recognize toxic teaching.

Then Keith and I take a close look at a marriage advice reel from a popular channel, looking at how it SOUNDS good, but it just is all the tropes in She Deserves Better, carried forward into marriage!

Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:


Timeline of the Podcast

1:20 Funny new merch!
3:25 What is “She Deserves Better” all about?
6:40 What do we want the authors we critiqued to do now?
18:50 Our message to moms and dads
33:15 Dissecting some internet marriage advice
43:15 A discussion on what male leadership looks like
52:45 Summary and final thoughts

What Are We Asking from the Authors?

We’re not actually expecting any authors to apologize for what they wrote to teen girls. Just like with Great Sex Rescue, in She Deserves Better we show how some authors said some things that seriously hurt girls.

When we wrote The Great Sex Rescue, we were hoping some authors would see the harm done and apologize and try to make things right. Instead we had four lawsuit threats.

We’re not naive anymore. That may be too big an ask. So instead we’re just asking the authors to quietly retire. Just stop promoting your old stuff. Stop thinking you’re qualified to write new books. Just retire and make the world a better place by doing something else that helps. Please.

What Are We Asking from Parents?

Rebecca’s going to teach you a new word–heuristic! It helps you see patterns and make judgments based on what you now know of the world.

If you’ve read She Deserves Better, you may now think that you have to analyze everything for toxic teaching. But what if, instead, you just decided to not listen/read stuff from organizations, authors, or churches that have proved toxic in the past? It is too big a job to analyze everything, so it’s okay to decide, the risk is too big on this stuff, so I’ll move on!

Check Out Our New Limited Edition Merch!

As we’ve been talking about She Deserves Better on our own podcast and others, Rebecca has said some pretty funny things. And people have asked us for merch. So we comply–because any merch you buy helps support this blog and this podcast.

So we’ve got “If you’re pulling something out of your butt, it’s probably crap”, as a good reminder to people who make things up without checking research and data;

And the Anti-Rape Raccoon, based on something Rebecca said on the Theology in the Raw podcast–that we can’t argue that boys can’t stop, because if a raccoon jumped in the car, he would stop. If he can stop for a raccoon, he can stop for her “no.”

We’ve got mugs, stickers, notebooks, and more!

What happens if we do nothing? Let’s look 20 years down the road!

I was scrolling Instagram recently and this reel came up from a big marriage channel that seems to do individual coaching, retreats, and is affiliated with a lot of big speakers.

And I can see how people think it sounds good.

But if you actually listen, it’s parrotting tropes that we saw in She Deserves Better:

  • Women’s words aren’t worth listening to
  • Men have more discernment than women, and women don’t actually know what they want
  • Men get to be the superheroes
  • Women don’t want a partner; they want someone who will lead them boldly with strength and courage

What if women simply want a guy who puts his dishes in the dishwasher? Who makes dinner every once in a while?

Things Mentioned in the Podcast

What We're fighting For with She Deserves Better

What do you think of the advice from the Instagram reel? Do you think any authors will apologize? What would you ask of them? Let’s talk in the comments!


Sheila: Welcome to the Bare Marriage podcast.  I’m Sheila Wray Gregoire from baremarriage.com where we like to talk about healthy, evidence-based, biblical advice for your sex life, your marriage, and your parenting.  And I am joined today by my daughter, Rebecca Lindenbach—    

Rebecca: Hello.  Hello.

Sheila: – as we are celebrating launch week.  Our new book, She Deserves Better, launched on Tuesday, and we’re just so excited to see all the reviews come in.  And people send us pictures of them with their books and their daughters, and it’s just been incredible.

Rebecca: Yeah.  It’s been lovely to see.

Sheila: So here we are in episode 188 of the Bare Marriage podcast, and we have three different things to talk to you about today.  What we want the authors that we’re critiquing to know, what we want moms to know, and then Keith and I are going to fast forward 20 years in the future and say what can your daughter’s marriage look like or what will it look like if she grows up believing some of these toxic teachings and how we can make sure that doesn’t happen.  That’s actually a fun segment.  Looking forward to that one.  But before we start, we’ve had some fun this week.

Rebecca: Mm-hmm.

Sheila: It got kind of crazy in the launch time for She Deserves Better.  We were doing four interviews a day often.  It was really exhausting.  And because of that, I think you got a little bit unfiltered on some of the podcasts.

Rebecca: Oh my word.  Yeah.  Some of the live events in the launch team and everything.

Sheila: Especially yes.  But there were several cool things that Rebecca said on different podcasts this month that people have said, “Hey, can you make merch out of that?”

Rebecca: Oh yeah.

Sheila: And so—

Rebecca: My unhinged line.  

Sheila: I am excited to tell you that we have stickers and mugs and notebook covers that say, “If you pull something out of your butt, it’s probably crap.”  So you can get that.  

Rebecca: That’s a thing that I said on the Internet that is now on merch. Yeah.

Sheila: That is now merch because so many people asked us for it.    

Rebecca: So you asked for it.  So we made it.  So you have to buy it now because I said that.  And you guys were like, “We need to immortalize that.”  And so if you said, “You need to make merch,” you need to buy it now because you have put my dumb, unfiltered, unhinged rant, and you’ve made it into something permanent.  So there we go.

Sheila: Yes.  And then, of course, there’s anti rape raccoon thing that you said on a podcast where someone was arguing that boys can’t help it and they can’t stop.  And you said—

Rebecca: If he can stop for a rabid raccoon—if a rabid raccoon jumped in the car and started attacking him, he could stop having sex.  So it’s not that he can’t.  It’s that he’s making a choice not to.  Right?  

Sheila: Right.  And so we have the anti rape raccoon stickers that you can put on your daughter’s notebook, on your fridge, wherever you would like.  So do check out those out in the merch store when you buy our merch.  And we have lots of other merch too.  Biblical womanhood merch.  Lots of fun stuff.  Love and respect.  Even just Bare Marriage merch to tell other people about the podcast.  When you buy that, it really helps to support what we do, so we appreciate that.  And of course, we appreciate an important group of people, our patrons who supported our research, and actually did the funding so that we could do our huge study for She Deserves Better.

Rebecca: Yes.

Sheila: And you can join our patron group for as little as $5 a month and get access to our incredibly fun Facebook group.  And then in even higher tiers, you’ll get merch, free books, all kinds of stuff, so do check that out at patreon.com/baremarriage.  The link is in the podcast notes.  Okay, Becca.  As the book has launched, I thought we could start this podcast with a bit of a synopsis of what the book is because I keep doing this on everyone else’s podcasts, but we don’t actually do it on our own very often.  So here is how I explain it.  And then I’ll let you jump in.  So when we wrote The Great Sex Rescue, we surveyed 20,000 women to find out what teachings in the evangelical church hurt marital and sexual satisfaction.  And everybody listening right now I’m going to give you an assignment.  I want you to go to Amazon.  I want you to type in Great Sex Rescue, and I want you to look at the reviews.  And what you will see over and over again is women saying—and men actually, “This was so validating.  It was so freeing.”  Those are some of the most common words.  And yet, after that, we had all these people coming to us saying, “Okay.  Great.  Now I feel better about myself.  But I have absolutely no idea what to teach my kids because I grew up with the toxic stuff.  I don’t want to give my kids the toxic stuff.  But I don’t want the pendulum to swing so far that we’re just, ‘Go have sex.’”

Rebecca: Yes.  Yes.  12 year old.  Go get it on.  No.  Absolutely not.  

Sheila: No.  No.  So what do we teach?  And so that’s what She Deserves Better was.  It was a whole new research project.  We surveyed 7,000, primarily, evangelical women.  Thank you so much to everyone who is listening who took that survey.  It helps us immensely.  To see what experiences they had in church.  So both what things they were taught but also were they exposed to abuse, what kind of sex ed did they get.  So what were their experiences in church?  Were they allowed to date, et cetera?  And how did that impact them long term in terms of marital satisfaction, sexual satisfaction, self esteem, likelihood of marrying an abuser?  Are there any that I’m missing?

Rebecca: I don’t know.  I was not actually paying attention to the list as you were saying it.

Sheila: Well, I hope I was (cross talk).  So there you go.  My daughter doesn’t pay attention to me.   

Rebecca: I zoned out for a second because I was thinking about something, and it happened to be the second that you quizzed me on it.  

Sheila: But that is what the book is, and it’s been so much fun on our launch team.  We have over a thousand people in our launch team going through the book chapter by chapter.  And they were really moved by the chapter on emotions and boundaries, which we shared about last week on the podcast and then, of course, by the modesty stuff and the consent stuff.  And by the vision that we shared in chapter 10 of what we want churches to be like for our girls in the future because we can get there.  We really can.  This is a grass roots movement.  We do not need to support toxic stuff.  And if all of us said, “Hey, you can’t steal my Jesus, and we want to meet with people who are all about freedom and who are all about living as Christ did and wanting to emulate Christ rather than wanting power we would be so much better off.”  Entitlement and power should not be part of the evangelical church, the Christian church.  And we can get there, so I hope this book really helps.  Give it to—celebrate with us.  Help us so much.  Buy some for your youth pastor, for your sister who has kids, for yourself, anyone.  Even if you just need to reparent yourself and you don’t have kids yet, please get it.  Okay.  So that was my intro.  And now you have something that you wanted to talk about.

Rebecca: Yeah.  Well, because we get asked all the time, “What do you actually expect from these authors,” right?  We get asked all the time, “Well, what do we do next?  What happens now?”  And after GSR—The Great Sex Rescue.  Sorry.  We short form it because we’re always talking around our kids, right?  So it’s awkward having a book with sex in the title when you have toddlers, and you don’t want them walking around saying, “My mommy writes books about sex,” with the other kids.  Anyway, but when we were writing The Great Sex Rescue, we actually kind of thought that some of the people might change their minds. 

Sheila: Yeah.  We thought some of the authors that we called out—because we did.  We looked at best selling, evangelical resources on sex and marriage.  And we quoted liberally from them.  And we thought maybe some of them would say, “Oh, wow.  I didn’t mean to say that.”

Rebecca: Well, for Pete’s sake, we even went to one of them ahead of time being like, “Hey, our survey found that your message actually hurt a lot of people.  Do you want to work with us to kind of deal with this?”  We were actually like, “Hey, do you want to,”—we really thought that she was going to change her mind and, obviously, didn’t.  But I think that when we’re writing this one we’re a lot less—we’re a lot less naïve— 

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  

Rebecca: – about how much these people actually want to help others.  We really thought that if people just heard all the right information that they would change their minds, and that’s clearly not the case.  And now our shift has focused from helping those who are doing wrong change their minds to rather instead empowering the people who are listening to them to turn away and listen to other voices instead.  So when it comes to—

Sheila: I want to say that again.  I think that’s an important point.  So we used to think if we just give enough data—

Rebecca: They would change their minds.

Sheila: – then the powers that be that are spreading these toxic messages will change their minds and will stop.  And it’s clear to us now that that’s very unlikely to happen.  Maybe individuals perhaps please.

Rebecca: But probably not.  

Sheila: But probably not.  And so our shift has focused more to showing people, “You don’t need to listen.  You can be empowered to say no.”  

Rebecca: Yeah.  And so when it actually comes to the people who we’re critiquing who wrote these horrible things, who wrote things that actually contributed to people getting raped and thinking it was their fault, the kinds of teachings that actually made it more likely that girls were raped, that’s horrible.  But that’s what these people did.  We’re still going to ask you to realize—if you’re one of the authors and you’re listening, realize that the harm that was done was great and, therefore, it requires a large response.  However, our survey, our research—and also just plain old common sense all shows us that the people who promote harmful teachings when a—especially when a woman is promoting harmful teachings that are harmful to women, she’s probably harmed by these things herself.

Sheila: Yeah.  And in the book She Deserves Better, most of the authors that we were critiquing were women.  They were women who were writing to teen girls. 

Rebecca: Yeah.  And so since these are likely women who are being harmed by these things as well and are perpetuating a harmful cycle, it might feel like it’s too much to kind of publically go through therapy, which would be what would be necessary to undo these teachings.  And so all we’re asking is retire.  

Sheila: Yeah.  Retire.  

Rebecca: We’re not asking for public self flagellation.  We’re not asking for any—I mean, ideally, what would happen is people would publically repent and work to make sure their books don’t have influence anymore the same way that Joshua Harris did with I Kissed Dating Goodbye.  Ideally, that is what we would say is people coming back and being like, “I want to undo all the damage that I did.”  People recognize that.  But I don’t think that’s going to happen.  And so what we’re really asking is to just simply retire.  Just remove yourself from the equation.  Say you did what you did and now you’re going to allow the next generation to change course, and you’re not going to get in their way.  And you’re not going to slow it down.  That’s all we’re asking at this point because we’ve kind of given up hope that anyone is actually going to care enough to actually do the right thing right thing.  Like the really, really right thing.  But looking at the sheer number of books sold, the number of conferences spoken at, there’s—frankly, there is not really much reason why these people can’t retire.  

Sheila: Yeah.  They’ve made a lot of money.

Rebecca: They’re not 23 year olds who are just starting out their career.  They have decades upon decades of bestselling books and conferences that are paying tons of money—there is no reason that they can’t just retire and still have a very comfortable life.  I’m saying—here’s what I’m saying.  The authors need to buy a country cottage and just foster dogs for the rest of their life.

Sheila: Foster old dogs.

Rebecca: Yeah.  Take the rest of your life and do something to make the world a better place.  And if you’re not emotionally or psychologically able to deal with this in the way that you need to in a public space, I think that’s a very valid thing.  I actually do.  I wish that people would.  But I think it’s very valid to say that’s just too much for me.  And so if that’s the case, just all I’m asking is to get out of the way of progress towards health.  Just stop putting up barriers.  Stop making it harder for people to get healing.  That’s all I’m saying.  I’m saying retire.  Rescue eight old shih tzus, who need a home. 

Sheila: Start quilting.

Rebecca: Yeah.  Or get really into conservation efforts and work with your local conservation groups.  They need volunteers.

Sheila: Yeah.  Make the world a better place.  Do Meals on Wheels.    

Rebecca: Yes.  That’s what we’re asking you to do.  We’re not even asking anymore for you to publically speak out.  I know there are people who will be mad at us for saying that, but I’m saying that we know that’s not going to happen.  They have proven that they don’t actually have integrity.  And I’m honest here.  These authors have proven that they have zero integrity when it comes to actually dealing with the harm that they’ve done.  So there are some authors we’ve talked about—and this we haven’t talked before, I’m hoping that they prove us wrong.  I’m hoping that they are the ones who are able to actually be a Christ-like influence in this space.  But there are some people who are critiqued before, and they’ve already shown that they just hardened their hearts against the pain of the people who they caused abuse for.  And so if that’s the case, all I’m saying is, “Okay.  So you’re not going to actually publically try to make things better, then just stop making it worse.  Then just go,”—

Sheila: Yeah.  Stop speaking.  Stop promoting stuff on social media.  Just let yourself retire.  And I know a lot of the authors that we have critiqued in She Deserves Better are authors who made their name as “I am the foremost person who speaks to girls of this age” or “I am the foremost researcher in this area.”  And it’s very hard to give that up when that’s your identity.  I get it.  I really do.  But there’s such a bigger world out there.  And I know this has been your life for years.  But you have made so much money off of it.

Rebecca: And it’s hurt so many.

Sheila: And it’s hurt so many people.  And we know that wasn’t your intention.  Okay?  We know it wasn’t.  And we know it’s a terrible thing to realize that the books that you’ve written and the things you’ve said in conferences have done so much harm because we’ve shown that they have.  That’s a terrible thing to have to admit to yourself.  It’s much easier to not admit it to yourself.  So you know what?  You don’t even have to deal with it.  Just go retire and do something totally different and put this behind you.  You can still live an amazing life.  And a lot of us were just doing the best that we could at the time.  Some of the things that we’ve critiqued, some of these authors were saying, I said really similar things back then too, but the difference is I took my books out of print.  And I told everybody I had been wrong.  And merely doing an updated edition—

Rebecca: Doesn’t do it.

Sheila: – where you haven’t said, “But this was wrong,” is not enough because then your old stuff is still out there.  And you haven’t said, “Hey, you shouldn’t be ready that anymore.”  That probably is too much to ask of a lot of people.  It’s just so emotionally difficult.  But yeah.  We just hope that you fade off.  And you can say, “God, look at my heart.  I honestly tried, and I was wrong.”  And a lot of the reason you were wrong could have been out of your own trauma.

Rebecca: Oh yeah.

Sheila: And some of the authors that we critique we found out more—they’ve gone public about more things in their own marriages lately.  And we understand that they were under trauma too.  And we did find the people who believe this stuff they’re more likely to be in abusive marriages.  They’re more likely to be married to men who watch porn and who lust and who can’t be trusted in public.  We know this.  And so it is quite likely that these women are getting hurt.  And that’s why I think there is a difference between the women who spread these messages and someone like Emerson Eggerichs or Steve Arterburn.

Rebecca: Yeah.  Because there is one where they are actively victimizing versus they are actively victimize—victimizing other people versus people who are actively victimizing themselves as well where it’s like having to—yeah.  We don’t want to say too too much without pontificating about people’s relationships publically.  But there is a level where we recognize that this is harder than just saying, “I was theologically wrong.”  This is personal for a lot of people.   

Sheila: Yeah.  And especially a lot of women. 

Rebecca: Yeah.  Especially a lot of the women.  And so we recognize that this is extra hard.  And we’re just asking maybe if you’re not able to do the hard version of publically dealing with this in a gut wrenching, honest way then you—as far as we are concerned, you have permission to take the easy way out and to just retire and just not do it anymore and just not answer Twitter messages and not answer Instagram messages and just deactivate those and go and—again, just rescue dogs.  Become a haven for—get into—when people buy bunnies for Easter and then they don’t want a bunny anymore.  Just have bunnies.  Take the bunnies.  And I know this sounds flippant, but I am being serious.

Sheila: Yeah.

Rebecca: I am being serious.  The world will be a better place.  The church will be a better place if the people who systematically created these—well, I mean who created systems that actively groomed and perpetuated abuse of God’s daughters, if they just said, “Okay.  I need a hard stop because I was clearly wrong, and I’m going to be humble enough to allow others to make it right.”  And that’s not just us.  There’s lots of people who are doing that.  I mean we work with a ton of them.  But I think there’s just a level where we would all be better off if we just let people retire and if we encourage people to retire and to say, “You know what?  You can do the heart work on your own in your cabin with the dogs and the rabbits and the forest.”  Can you tell where I want to retire and what I want my retirement plan to be?  Can anyone tell?  We’re projecting a little bit here.  No.  That is what I do want to say to the authors.  I think that people think, “Oh, you’re just out for a witch hunt.”  No.  We just want the church to be better.  And that means that we want people to stop putting up hurdles to those who are just trying to follow Christ and who are trying to be whole and who are trying to keep their daughters safe.  And you may have done it by accident.  That’s fine.  But you don’t then say, “Well, because it was an accident, I get to keep doing it.”  No.  That’s not how it works.  Retire.  Take yourself out of the scene.  And be grateful that there are people who are able to continue the work in a way that is healthier.

Sheila: Yeah.  And realize you had a huge platform.  You got a lot of benefit from the messages that you shared.  You got a lot of benefit from it.  And God still loves you even if you did harm.  God still loves you.  And God still has a plan where you can spend the rest of your life doing something that makes the world better.  

Rebecca: But God also loves the thousands upon thousands upon thousands of girls who read your messages and who were harmed by them.  And that’s what we need to recognize.

Sheila: Yeah.  And they matter.  You matter, but they matter too.  And so let’s just spend the next few years trying to right this wrong.  And maybe righting this wrong is just you going off so that others can pick up that mantle and start spreading healthy stuff too.  So that’s what we’re asking from these authors.  We’re not asking for anyone to fall on their sword.  We just want the messages to stop.  And I think that’s reasonable.  Okay.  So that’s what we wanted to say to the authors.  Now we have something that we want to say to moms and dads, who are thinking, “All right.”  A lot of you have read She Deserves Better by now or it’s coming in the mail.  Or maybe you haven’t ordered it, and you need to order it.  But what’s the next step, Becca?  What are we asking moms and dads to do now? 

Rebecca: Well, okay.  We were talking about this.  And I want to talk about something I said in passing in our very first live event in the launch group.  Okay?  So at the very end of our live event, the very first one, we were talking about—we had a question come up.  And I forget exactly what it is.  But it got me to talk about how our brains work, right?  So often what happens when we start to question things in our beliefs and we start to have a matured faith and we start to realize, “Oh, some of the things that I was taught—they weren’t actually of Jesus.  And I thought they were because they were a part of Christian culture.  But just because they were a part of Christian culture doesn’t mean that they were Christian,” right?  And then they start to wonder, “Well, what is?”  Then you start to double guess everything, and you start to think, “Well, I need to now look over every single thing.  And well 85% of the stuff from this place is good.  So as long as I just try to weed out that 15%, then I’m good to go,” and what I want to say is that our brains are not super computers.  Okay.  You are not a computer.  You are not actually designed to filter through painstakingly every single thing—every single bit of information that’s put in front of you.  You’re not able to do it.  Actually.  Our brains are not able to do what we ask of them when we’re trying to comb through every single little thing.  Our brains are designed to work with something called heuristics.  Okay.  Heuristic just means short cuts.  

Sheila: Yeah.  Heuristic.  Yes.

Rebecca: Heuristic.  It’s a fancy word for a brain short cut.  Okay?  And these heuristics are also often lead to bias.  Okay?  So we learn, for example, if you got a dog attack you when you were younger and you might realize, “Okay.  So big dogs like that are scary.”  And then you get something called confirmation bias which every time you hear a dog growl and it’s a big dog you say, “Oh my brain.  Yes.   That’s right.  Big dog.  Scary,” whereas if it’s like a little dog, you’re like, “Well, whatever.”  Or if it’s like a cat growling at you or something.  You just don’t realize it.  So your brain is primed to accept the things you accept—anyway, lots of heuristics our brains use.  But one thing that you can actually do is use those to your advantage.  Instead of trying to fight them all the time, sometimes they’re beneficial because the reason—you have to understand why our brain does that is, again, it’s because you’re not capable of going through every single bit of information that’s put in front of you.  You’re just not.  You’re going to burn yourself out.  It exhausts you.

Sheila: And I think that’s what people have tried to do after reading Great Sex Rescue and She Deserves Better is they’re like, “Okay.  Now I have to comb through everything to see where the toxic teachings are.”

Rebecca: Well, we get all the time, “Well, Focus on the Family put out this book.  So is this book good?”  It’s like, “Okay.  You know what?  We’re asking the wrong question.”  We’re asking the wrong question.  So we found that a lot of stuff on Focus on the Family, for example, from Brio magazine was really bad.  And it was based in the core doctrine of Focus on the Family.  If you were to go to a burrito restaurant and you were to look at the little pots where they have all the different things that you can choose to go on your burrito and five of them have an active maggot infestation, would you be judgmental and wrong to not trust the other 18 boxes there?  No.  It would be perfectly reasonable.  It doesn’t even matter if the other 18 are at the highest FDA standards.  Okay?  You saw five with maggots, and you’re like, “Statistically speaking, I know that probably means the other ones are more likely to have also been contaminated.”  Okay?  That is not a bad judgy, unfair thing to assume.  Similarly, when we know that Focus on the Family has had so many negative and harmful teachings, is actually responsible for the majority of the damaging teachings that we have found—

Sheila: In She Deserves Better.  

Rebecca: And in The Great Sex Rescue.

Sheila: Yeah.  The publish Love and Respect.

Rebecca: No.  Both of them.  And also Tim LaHaye worked—everyone was connected to Focus on the Family.  They are kind of thing—the question is not to ask, “Okay.  So those five ones have maggots.  But does this one?”  The question is why are we eating here?  And that’s what I’m trying to give you permission to say is like as a parent we have to realize that the evangelical industrial complex is called that is because it is an industrial complex.  

Sheila: And shout out to Skye Jethani from Holy Post who I believe was the one who coined that phrase.

Rebecca: I think so.  I think so.

Sheila: Yeah.  Just trying to give credit where credit is due.

Rebecca: Yeah.  But this evangelical industrial complex, it preys on our fears as parents that our children won’t love God.  And so it says if you want your kids to love God, you have to make sure that they get the right magazines.  Right?  They have to read the right devotionals.  You have to read from Focus on the Family because we’re Christian.  And they have these.  And it’s marketing ploys.  

Sheila: And it’s not just that.  Your child is under such attack.  Your child—the world is out to get your child.  And so you need our materials to make sure the world doesn’t get your child.  

Rebecca: And I just want to say, as a parent, you have permission to just not read from those people.  Genuinely, a lot of this stuff is using fear to keep you hooked in.  So it’s like, “Okay.  But now they have a book on abuse.  And so maybe not they’re okay because we have to have Focus on the Family.”  And you have to ask why.  Why?  Why?  Why do we need to have people like Focus on the Family?  Why?  Why?

Sheila: Yeah.  If you know the leadership has terrible views on divorce, believes that men are over women, and has consistently not listened to data, then why?  Why listen to them on anything else?

Rebecca: And I think a lot of it is because we think that we’re prideful if we don’t.  Right?  We believe we have to give everyone a fair chance.  Right?  It’s like okay.  But this article is good, and so it’s kind of wrong to say that it’s just a bad organization.  That’s not what Jesus says.  I just can’t this across enough.

Sheila: Yeah.  How many times did Jesus say to look at the signs and to look at the fruit?    

Rebecca: Yeah.  To look at the signs.

Sheila: And the thing is do you know how many books are published in the evangelical world every year?  

Rebecca: Oh my gosh.

Sheila: There are so many.  There are so many blogs.  There are so many podcasts.  If you don’t listen to Focus on the Family, it’s not like there’s nothing else.  And so that’s what we’re asking you to do.  If something has lost your trust—has shown you that they aren’t trustworthy with something, like God said, when people are trustworthy with something small, they’ll get put in charge of something big.  But when they’re not trustworthy with something small, then we shouldn’t trust them anymore.

Rebecca: Yeah.  And when they definitely haven’t been trustworthy with something big, we definitely shouldn’t trust them with something else big or small.

Sheila: Exactly.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  And what we’re trying to say here is don’t be afraid to shake the dust off your feet.  We have such unrealistic expectations for ourselves that we’re supposed to be expert theologians, expert logicians, expert statisticians, expert everything.  And so we say, “Well, I know they’re bad about this, and so now I’m going to personally comb through everything.”  Just calm down is what I’m saying.  You don’t have to.  You don’t have to expend all that mental energy.  You don’t.  You can just leave and find other places that are just—don’t have a bad track record.  You don’t have to spend that much energy.  And if you’re spending all that energy trying to redeem Focus on the Family, you’re not going to have the energy to find the places that are actually healthy.

Sheila: And we’re using Focus on the Family as an example, but it isn’t just that.  It could be your denomination.  It could be the Christian schools you’ve gone to, the universities you’ve gone to.

Rebecca: It could be a specific author, who is like, “Well, I’ve changed.”  And now they’re trying something new.  And you’re like, “Well, should I give them a chance?  That seems unfair.”  It’s not unfair.  You are a human being.  Not a super computer.  You don’t have the capacity to figure every single minutiae detail out.  You get to say, “You know what?  I am too tired for this.  I am too tired for this, and they have lost my trust.  And that doesn’t mean they’re a horrible person.  It doesn’t mean that God hates them.  But it does mean that I’m not going to buy their new book no matter how much better it is because I don’t want to put myself in a position where I have gone somewhere statistically that has a worse track record and get burned again.”  You get to say that.  You have permission to take the easy way out for this too because the easy way out is the wise way out.  It’s the way that tells your daughter, “Hey, you don’t have to give trust back to people who have broken it repeatedly.  You can just let them move on.”  

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  And that was actually a big thing we talked about in She Deserves Better was how to recognize toxic people, how to recognize toxic systems, and those same lessons apply to us as adults.  When someone has broken your trust, it’s okay to move on to something else.  And like we said, there are so many books published every year.  There are so many podcasts out there.  There are so many different churches, so many different Christian universities or colleges or secular ones.  If something has broken your trust, there are so many other options.  And we just don’t want you tired and discouraged.  We really don’t.

Rebecca: When I was really questioning everything about my faith after GSR came out, right?  When we were really dealing with it especially with the push back that we got from the people who had done the most harm.  The biggest thing that I realized was such a gift to me for my faith and my spiritual life was accepting the fact that I didn’t have to believe in everyone.  That Jesus’s own model and words taught me that I could just say, “Okay.  You can just be you.  You can keep doing the wrong thing.”  I’m just going to go elsewhere.  I’m not even going to see myself as being a part of your town.  I’m going to shake the dust off my feet which was a—it’s more than just, “You know, put them on the back burner for a little bit.”  It’s like no.  I’m not coming back.  I’m out of here.  You are allowed to lose hope in certain people or organizations or institutions so that you can keep the hope.  You are allowed to lose hope when it’s necessary so that you can keep the ultimate hope in Christ.  And I just don’t want to see people reading through She Deserves Better and then just feeling like there’s just too much work to be a safe Christian parent.  Or like this is just too hard.  How can I know then if what I’m getting is trustworthy because some of the Focus on the Family stuff is bad but some of it is good?  The answer is you just don’t put new wine into old wineskins.  You just don’t.  You realize that we are allowed to make wise decisions.  We’re allowed to stand up for ourselves, and we are allowed to make logically sound decisions about where we get our spiritual food.  And you deciding, “No.  They actually don’t get second chances with me.  And even if I’m missing out on 85% healthy stuff, I’m fine with that.”  It’s just such an easier way to live.  And it allows you to focus back on Christ and be less stressed about having to be doing—doing a super computer’s job when you’re just a person and you were made to just be a person.

Sheila: Yeah.  And that’s the feedback that we’ve had from people who have read She Deserves Better too is they just feel so much—they honestly feel better because they do feel free from all of these toxic things.  And one of the things that made me feel a lot better even before we were writing Great Sex Rescue, I was really struggling with I don’t understand how people who can claim to love Jesus, who can know the Bible so well, who can be so beloved in the evangelical world, speaking at all of these conferences, I don’t understand how they can share such toxic stuff.  And you said to me, “But, Mom, Jesus told us that not everybody was going to know the truth and that there’s always going to be a lot of people who are high up in the church who aren’t saying stuff of Christ.”  So many of His parables are about that how there is going to be the wheat and the tares, how there’s going to be the birds of the air nesting in the trees, how it’s not going to be perfect.  The church is going to have things in it that aren’t good.  And I spent so much emotional energy trying to figure out how to make those bad things because I couldn’t figure out how it could be that people who know the Bible could look so little like Christ.  It’s been so freeing to realize they don’t reflect on me.  They’re not necessarily even following Jesus in the same way that I am or even understanding Jesus or knowing Jesus as I am, and so I can just let them be.  And I can look for people who are obviously doing what Jesus is doing, and I can go run alongside them. 

Rebecca: Yeah.  This is how they shall know you are disciples by your love for one another.

Sheila: Right.  Let’s see where God is working.  Let’s see where love is flourishing.  Let’s see where people are finding freedom and healing, where the body of Christ is growing.  And I don’t mean growing by numbers.  I mean growing by love, and then let’s go join ourselves there.  And let’s not concern ourselves too much with what else is going on.  And I’m not saying we don’t call things out.  You know we’re always going to call things out.  I think that’s part of my personality.  But we’re just saying that for you, listeners, who might be filling a little bit tired we hope and we know that She Deserves Better is going to be very validating.  But after you read it, remember that you deserve better too.  And you don’t need to be bogged down by all this toxicity either.  Your job is not to protect your daughter by having to go through everything that she could possibly see and making sure there’s no toxic stuff.  Your job is to protect your daughter by getting her out of those toxic places and then helping her just learn what truth is because when she sees truth she’ll be able to recognize the lies easier.  So don’t make your job harder than it needs to be.  Jesus said His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  And it’s our belief that as you read Great Sex Rescue and so many of you said, “I felt seen.  I feel validated.  I feel heard,” you’re going to read She Deserves Better, and you’re going to be like, “Oh, thank goodness.  It wasn’t God who was saying all these terrible things to me.”  It wasn’t God who saw me in these terrible ways.  And now you can share that good news with your daughter, and then you can just leave the toxic stuff behind.  It doesn’t need to matter to you anymore.  And that’s our prayer for you.  I have brought my husband, Keith, on the podcast.  

Keith: Hey.

Sheila: And, babe, we are going to talk about something.  I’m just going to put you on the spot.

Keith: Okay.

Sheila: You love it when I do that.  

Keith: Yeah.  Absolutely.  All the time.

Sheila: And we’re going to change gears for a little bit, and we’re going to listen to a little clip from an Instagram reel of marriage advice.  So we’ve been talking about She Deserves Better and all the advice that’s been given to teen girls.  But I want us to fast forward 20 years in the future from that girl and that guy sitting and hearing all this advice to teens and see how that may play out in marriage because I just thought this was such a good example.  Okay?

Keith: Okay.

Sheila: All right.  So this is from a YouTube channel called 247Marriage or an Instagram channel.  This particular video has two million views, I think.  It was like, “Oh how caring this husband is.”  But I want us to actually go beneath the surface and analyze what he is saying.  So we’re going to play part of it for you.  Are you ready?  

Keith: Okay.

Sheila: Okay.  Here we go.

Instagram Clip: Men often tell me that their wife is constantly complaining and criticizing.  Complaining and criticizing.  She won’t let up.  So let me let you in on a secret.  Behind every criticism and complaint is a wish or a want.  You know what she’s asking for, what she wishes, and what she wants is for you to move towards her, for you to spend more time with her, for you to emotional invest into her.  She wants someone to lead with strength, with courage, and with boldness.  So listen.  Next time you hear her complaining or criticizing stop for a moment and ask yourself, “What is she really saying?  What is she asking of me?”

Keith: All right.

Sheila: Complaining and criticizing.  Complaining and criticizing.

Keith: Mm-hmm.  Well, there’s a whole lot of places we go with this.  So why don’t you lead me into where you want to handle this?  Because there’s a few things I would have to say, but what’s your kind of view?

Sheila: Okay.  And I’m eager to hear—I’m actually going to handle this chronologically which I know is strange for me as an N on the (cross talk).

Keith: You’re going to do it like point by point in order?

Sheila: I am.  

Keith: Wow.

Sheila: I know.

Keith: Okay.  I thought you were going to talk about the big themes and stuff.

Sheila: No.  The little S in you must be so happy.    

Keith: No.  My brain is in theme gear.  I’m thinking of all the themes.  I’m pulling out all these different things.  Okay.  Good.  So now I can’t remember what the first thing he said was.  Oh, complaint and criticism.  

Sheila: Yes.    

Keith: Men come to him with—saying their wives are always complaining and criticizing.  Yeah.  Yeah.

Sheila: Yes.  Complain and criticize.  He says it several times.  This is a very common trope.  Right?  

Keith: Yes.  Absolutely.

Sheila: That women are just—oh, they’re just complaining and criticizing as if—and it’s a very negative way of conveying what’s likely going on.  It’s needless.  They’re always saying the stuff that’s silly.  Right?  I think there’s two possible things going on here.  When people talk about women who are always complaining and criticizing, the one is that you might be dealing with someone who is honestly emotionally abusive.  Right?  Who is being abusive, who is manipulating, who is criticizing constantly, and there are many, many women like that for sure.  And many men.

Keith: Well, there’s men and women who are critical.  And nothing you can do can ever be enough.  And they just pick at you like that.  And that’s not right.  You shouldn’t be like that.

Sheila: Right.  I don’t think that’s what’s going on because of what he says later.  Here I am jumping ahead.  But when he says that what she really wants is to connect with you then I don’t think this is really an emotionally abusive situation. 

Keith: Yeah.  And he’s clearly setting this up as a typical relationship thing, not a I’m going to tell you how to handle abusive situations.

Sheila: Right.  So if it’s not abusive and she’s complaining and criticizing all the time, then that means she probably has a reason.  Okay?  She’s probably saying things for a reason.  And women often get told they are complaining and criticizing when they relentlessly talk about the same thing over and over again.    

Keith: Mm-hmm.  Because he’s not changing his behavior.

Sheila: Right.  Let me give you a real world example that I’ll just pull out of my hat.  Okay?  Just as an example.  Maybe he’s leaving wet towels on the bed.

Keith: I knew you were going to go there.

Sheila: Okay.  An inside joke for those of you who have followed the Bare Marriage podcast.  But maybe he’s leaving wet towels on the bed, and he never picks them up.  And what is she supposed to do about that?  Right?  So this is really bugging her.  The bed is getting mildew.

Keith: Whatever.  Yeah.

Sheila: She keeps having to remake it, to strip the bed.  It’s really gross.  What is she supposed to do other than keep saying to him, “Hey, don’t leave wet towels on the bed.  Will you please stop this?  This is getting ridiculous,” right?  Or maybe—here’s another example.  Maybe he comes home from work, and he immediately goes and vegges.  And she’s trying to get dinner on while supervising homework while the toddler is on her leg.  And she’s like, “Can you just help me?  Why are you always doing that?”  And so she might be saying things over and over and over again, but it’s not that she is a critical person.  It’s that he isn’t doing what she needs him to do to be a partner.

Keith: Yeah.  A lot of the times that can be the case for sure.  There’s a lot of good studies that show that mental load is more on the women and that sort of stuff.  And when they are asking for help from the men, the men perceive it as complaining.

Sheila: Right.  

Keith: “I work hard enough.  Don’t you know I work really hard too?”  And they get very defensive sometimes.  Yeah.

Sheila: Yeah.  And so we see this.  We see this putting down of women when they’re making requests.  And she might be making them in a non productive way.  She might be getting frustrated at him, et cetera.  But there is no acknowledgement there in this video that what she is asking is legitimate.

Keith: Yeah.  Because he says, “I want you to listen behind the criticism and the complaining to hear that there’s a wish or a want,” right?  That’s what he says.  And it’s like that’s an interesting way of wording it.  This is kind of like a big picture thing rather than a specific thing.  But it’s like why would you word it that way?  Why wouldn’t you just say, “Hey, guys, rather than perceiving what she’s saying as a criticism or a complaint, perceive it as a wish or a want”?  

Sheila: Yes.

Keith: Because now you’re partners.

Sheila: Because that is actually a difference.  Okay.  Because saying her complaint or criticism is a wish or a want is very different from saying, “What is behind the complaint or criticism and figure out what the wish or want is behind it?”  

Keith: Yeah.  Because maybe the want—maybe the complaint is the want.  “I want you to stop doing this thing that I’m complaining about.”

Sheila: Yeah.  Maybe the wish or a want is that she just simply doesn’t want wet towels on her bed.  It doesn’t need to be a bigger thing.  And by him saying, “Don’t listen to her words, guys.  Don’t listen to what she’s complaining or criticizing about.  Realize there is something else going on and figure out what that something else is because you don’t need to actually listen to her words.”

Keith: Yeah.  Because you want to be—what she says is not important as you making sure that you understand the situation fully because you’ll get it more than she will, in a sense.  Maybe it’s overstating it, but it kind of feels that way.  The whole idea of—okay.  So obviously, people in marriages complain about how the other person acts sometimes.  I mean we—when you’re living with a person 24/7, you’re going to get—you’re going to rub each other the wrong way once in awhile. 

Sheila: Sure.    

Keith: But you don’t see this persistent trope of how much complainers men are.  Right?  But you get this trope of women being complainers.  So there is only two reasons for that.  I can think of logically.  One is women actually do just complain more than men.  And that’s a possibility.  I don’t think the literature and the studies show that.  I think that the other is the—is what’s actually operating here is that there is a level of entitlement and privilege in the man that the woman just doesn’t have.  It’s assume the woman is going to take care of the household.  And it’s assumed the man can relax when he gets home from work.  And when that doesn’t happen, he feels hard done by.  Right?  But she doesn’t feel put upon until it gets really, really bad because that’s the way society has worded things.  So instead, guys—instead of saying, “See past her complaints and criticism,” this guy should be saying, “Don’t see them as complaints and criticism.  See them as ways that maybe you’re not picking up your share of things and actually listen to what she’s saying.  And maybe put it into practice.”

Sheila: Right.  Because he doesn’t actually say listen to what she’s saying, this is the whole thing.

Keith: Yeah.  Specifically, you shouldn’t listen to what she’s saying.  Yeah.

Sheila: Yeah.  He’s saying, “Don’t listen to what she’s saying.  Think about what’s going on behind the scenes and figure out what she really wants because you are more capable of figuring out what she wants than she is.”

Keith: Yeah.  He doesn’t say that, but that’s the implication.  

Sheila: That’s the implication.

Keith: That’s sort of the mentality that’s there.  And that’s very much in the evangelical church that he’s the leader.  He’s the decision maker.  He’s the one that God has given to be in charge of the family.  So I don’t know if this is the next point you were going to go on to.  Am I jumping a gun?

Sheila: Well, I just wanted to point out how much—and in She Deserves Better, we did look at how women’s voices are silenced.  Women don’t—in mixed groups, women do not talk as much as men do.  Now that’s not true in marriages.  That’s different.  But women’s voices are not—they’re not considered as important.  And a man’s perspective tends to be considered more important because the men are in leadership.    

Keith: Yeah.  That reminds me of a podcast you did—I don’t know.  It was like a year ago or something too.  The idea of complaining and what we consider complaining, right?  Because if your boss has some input for you, we don’t call it complaining.  Right?

Sheila: Right.

Keith: Complaining indicates a power differential.  Right?  It’s only complaining when a person who has more power is being asked to do something by a person with less power.  And that’s the reason why men perceive women as complainers.  Not because women ask for more than men ask of women but because men have a position of power that women don’t.  And we, as Christian men, should be saying, “Hey, if I’m in a position of power, I should be giving that up for the benefit of the other person rather than trying to hoard it to myself.”

Sheila: Yeah.  Exactly.  Okay.  Next thing chronologically, after that, he says that what she wants you to do is lead with—I think he mentions a bunch of words.  Lead with boldness and strength and courage.

Keith: Boldness and courage.  Yeah.  Yeah.

Sheila: Okay.  That’s what she wants.  She wants you to lead with boldness and strength and courage as you solve this problem that she can’t identify but you can see behind the scenes.  And it’s really talking about this grand gesture that you’re supposed to make so that you are leading with boldness, and I find this really funny.  But we saw this over and over again in She Deserves Better that men are often motivated to do something when they feel like they’re going to be seen as a hero.  But if they’re just going to be seen as on par with her, then that’s not good enough.

Keith: Well, I don’t think that’s the way men actually are.  I think that’s the way that some elements of the church talk about men.  Okay?  Because I think that most men just want to be decent people.

Sheila: Yeah.  I totally agree.

Keith: So my wife says, “Don’t leave wet towels on the bed,” I’m like, “Oh shoot.  Yeah.  Sorry.  I didn’t mean to do that.  I shouldn’t have done that.”

Sheila: I don’t think you’ve ever left a wet towel on the bed, by the way.  

Keith: But the concept, right?  Most people—if their wife asks them to do something or to stop doing something, their initial response is, “I love my wife.  I want to do what’s right.  I want to make her happy, so I’m going to do what she wants me to do.”  The problem is in some parts of the church that is a problem because if my wife says, “Please don’t do this,” and I stop doing that now she’s leading.  Oh my gosh.  The wife is leading the family.  The children will be unsafe and spiritually attacked because I listened to my wife and did what she said.  Oh my lord.  It’s just terrible.  I’m being a bit facetious.  But that’s kind of the way it comes across to me.  So okay.  Okay.  “If she asks me to do something, I can’t do it because then she’s leading.  But what I’ll do is I will think of a way that I can word that I’m now doing what she said but it’s because I understand the real deep underlying issue.  So therefore, I’m going to do it because I’m now taking leadership to do the things she asked me to stop doing.”  I’m becoming a proactive doing of the thing you just asked me to do because I’ve got this big—you know what I’m saying?

Sheila: Yeah.

Keith: It’s just a bunch of semantic nonsense to make people feel like they’re still the leader because it’s so important that they be the leader that nothing else matters as opposed to just saying, “Hey, let’s just be decent human beings to each other.” Sometimes you’re going to have a good point.  Sometimes I’m going to have a good point.  Sometimes you’re going to ask me to do something I’m going to go, “No.  I’m not going to do that,” and vice versa.

Sheila: Yeah.  And you have.  And I have.  Yeah.

Keith: Because it’s not important to be the leader.  It’s important to be a decent, caring human being.

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  No.  Exactly.  I’m reminded last week on the podcast Rebecca and I read an excerpt from For Young Women Only where Shaunti Feldhahn was talking about how every boy wants to be a superhero and how we need to be—encourage him to be able to be his Peter Parker.  And this reminds me very much of that.  How, “Guys, she wants you to lead with boldness.”  And it’s like no.  She just wants you to pick up your wet towel.  She wants you to pick up your wet towel.  She wants you to not be a slob.  And so this idea that, “But men need to be the heroes.  We can’t get men to engage in marriage and to be a good husband unless they get to be the heroes,” is very, very prevalent in our marriage advice.  

Keith: And it’s not healthy to men.  I mean if you just taught men to be healthy from the beginning they wouldn’t need to feel like they’re a hero to do basic things in life.  Right?  But I think a lot of guys in these kind of churches feel inadequate, and they feel they need that sort of bolstering to make them feel good about themselves because they’ve been trained to just—to need to be the leader.  So if I’m not a leader, something is wrong with me.  

Sheila: Yeah.  And if I’m not a leader, who am I?

Keith: Yeah.  Even if I’m just being a good husband and we’re just both working together to make a good relationship and to take care of our kids, something is wrong.  I’m not fulfilling what God intended for me.  And it’s like are you kidding me?  Right?  And the whole idea of what leadership means, right?  Because it’s like in this case, if he were to just listen to what she said and do what she said because she was having a legitimate complaint, he would no longer be the leader.  And that would be a bad thing, right?  Because but isn’t a leader in Christian circles supposed to be a person who has humility and cares about other people?  So if my wife says, “Hey, can you do this,” and I go, “Of course I’ll do that because I care about you and I want what’s best for you,” how is that not being Christ like and, in a sense, a leader?  But in the antithetical way that Jesus wants us to be a leader, do you know what I’m saying?

Sheila: Yeah.  What you’re basically saying is Matthew 20:25-28, right?  That it’s the Gentiles who—  

Keith: Sure.  Let’s go with that.  Let’s go with that.

Sheila: Yeah.  It’s the Gentiles, who lord it over.  It’s the Gentiles, who worry about power and authority, but it’s not to be so with you.  “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.”  That’s the point.  And when he talks about how she wants you to lead with boldness and courage and strength, no.  Maybe she just wants you to be humble.  Maybe she just wants you to be a partner.  Maybe she just wants you to pick up your darn wet towel, right?  And I just find this so interesting.  This little glimpse of marriage advice because it’s—first of all, it’s discounting the voices of women.  So it’s not acknowledging that she may have a point about the complaining and criticizing.  It’s saying you don’t need to actually listen to women’s voices because the guys know best.  They know stuff that women just can’t see.  And guys, it’s your job to be the hero and to lead and to be big and to be bold and to be strong.  And you know what?  Boldness and strength are not confined to men.  Women get to be bold and strong too.  And while I think every woman wants a guy who will take initiative, she does.  Women want guys who will take initiative and who will be involved and who will take the mental load.  We don’t need a guy who will tell us what we need.

Keith: Exactly.  And this is the thing is that they talk about leadership all the time.  And a lot of the times when they talk about being a leader they’re just talking about being engaged.  And it’s almost like they’re setting up this situation where I am either in charge or I’m disengaged.  And there is no other middle ground.  And it’s like how about just being an engaged partner in the relationship.  How is that not the best way to serve your wife and be a good Christian husband?

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  Mm-hmm.  So I just think this whole reel—you take all the stuff in She Deserves Better, and you fast forward 20 years.  And this is what you get.  You get men who need to be heroes and who need to be superheroes and who need to be big in order to be engaged in the marriage.  

Keith: And for them to be big, their wife has to be small.  

Sheila: And her voice has to not count.  

Keith: Yeah.  And that’s not what we want.

Sheila: No.  And the funny thing is if you were just to listen to this reel I bet you a lot of people would think, “Oh, this sounds really good because we’re telling men that their wives want them to emotionally connect.”  And that is good.  But when you actually look at what’s being said, once again, it’s like women’s voices don’t matter.  And I’ll tell you it almost sounds like what he’s suggesting is that men do these big gestures because what she really wants is she wants to spend time with you.  She wants to emotionally connect with you.  And so you picture this guy whose wife has been saying, “I just want you to help when you come home from work.  And I just want you to pick up your wet towels.”  And he says, “I booked us to go away for the weekend so that we can reestablish our love.  And I’ve got us—Grandma is going to come to babysit.”  And what she is thinking is, “Grandma doesn’t take care of the kids.  I don’t want to go away.  I want to spend time as a family.”  This isn’t even what she wanted.  She just wanted you to be engaged when she’s making dinner because she knows that after you come back from that weekend away he’s going to keep vegging when he comes home from work again.  It’s like she doesn’t need the big gesture.  She needs you to just be engaged.  

Keith: Mm-hmm.  That’s right.

Sheila: And that’s what this is missing is it’s portraying women as all these women.  They’re always complaining and criticizing.  But guys, all you need to do is just be her hero and do something big.  And it’s like no.  Maybe you just need to pick up the wet towel.  Maybe you just need to pick up the wet towel, Emerson.  Yep.

Keith: Yeah.  I mean this is the thing too is it’s kind of like this idol.  The husband is the leader, right?  And you’ve got all kinds of podcasts where you talk about what head means and stuff.  And head doesn’t mean leader the way that people think it means and that sort of thing.  But I think this is really an issue of where it’s this idolatry that the husband has to be the leader.  And so everything has to be filtered through that.  And so then you get these bizarre ways of looking at things that are just not practical, not healthy, make everybody neurotic.  These poor women trying to make sure that I’m not stepping on my husband’s leadership.  And these poor men wondering, “Am I leading because—if I’m listening to my wife?”  Come on.  Just be decent to each other.  And just be partners.  It’s so much easier if we just be—common sense.  I don’t know.

Sheila: Yeah.  Take initiative to care about your spouse.  Take initiative to care about the family and be humble.  And we’d all be good.  We’d all be good.

Keith: Yeah.  Men and women both.  Yeah.

Sheila: Amen.  So that is what we want for marriages.  We want them to be engaged and happy.  And they’re only going to get there if we stop teaching teens the stuff that we have been teaching teens in church.  And so I am so glad that She Deserves Better is now available.  I feel like I’ve birthed another baby.  It’s been a weird month.  It’s just been so busy with interviews and with a lot of stuff going on.  I really am exhausted, but I’m happy.  I’m glad it’s out.  I’ve seen so many pictures.  People have sent them on social media of them with 10 books because they’re giving them away to their youth pastor.  And they’re giving them away to friends.  And that’s exciting to see that people have bought them in such bulk.  We sold so many on Amazon that they lowered the price again.  So that’s great.  And so please do check out She Deserves Better.  If you’ve enjoyed what we’ve been talking about on the podcast for the last few weeks, seriously, it’s only scratched the surface.  And the book packs a real punch.  I’m really happy with it.  I like to say that Great Sex Rescue was our passion project.  It was something that we were so, so invested in because we were so upset with how the evangelical church was largely ignoring abuse and really promoting such a terrible entitlement view of sex that was shallow and awful and really very destructive.  And so we’re really passionate about that.  But this one is more a labor of love because Rebecca and Joanna, my coauthors—they both have little girls.  And I, of course, raised two girls.  And I have a granddaughter.  And we just want better.  We want better for them.  We want better for the church, and I think we’re going to get there.  So I’m so glad that it’s out now.  That it can make a difference in all of your lives.  I’m excited to see your comments and your reviews come in.  And I just want to thank everyone for their support over the last month.  I’ve just really enjoyed your messages even when I was complaining that I was getting so frustrated and tired.  So that was really great.  So thank you.  And please check out She Deserves Better, and we will be back next week.  We’ll be starting a whole new thing going on, so I hope that other people can join us for that.  Thanks for being here, babe.

Keith: Oh, you’re welcome.  I think the big thing I want to say to guys, if the guys are listening, is that we really need to get behind this kind of teaching.  Men, historically, have been taught that if women get bigger it means we get smaller.  And that’s really a horrible toxic way of looking at things.  When women are stronger, everybody is stronger.  And we need to get behind women.  We need to get behind our daughters, our granddaughters.  We need to be able to create a world where they can have the wings that God wants them to have.  They can do the things that God wants them to do without any fear, without any trepidation knowing that we have their backs, that we want them to succeed.  We want the absolute best for them.  And I think, unfortunately, we haven’t taught our girls that.  We’ve taught our girls to sacrifice themselves for others rather than doing the things that God wants them to do.  And I think the time for that to change is now.

Sheila: Yeah.  Thank you.  It was great having you here, babe.  

Keith: Yeah.  It’s always good to be here.

Sheila: And we will see you again on the next Bare Marriage podcast.  Bye-bye.


SDB Coming Soon Desktop

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

Related Posts

PODCAST: On Nice Guy Syndrome, and Boundaries!

Have you ever heard the J.O.Y acronym? It's supposed to sum up our attitude towards how we live our lives, and it stands for: Jesus first Others second You last This is very much what we're taught in church--that we come last. Yet Jesus said that we're to love others...

PODCAST: Trauma, EMDR, and “Himpathy”

We talk so much about trauma--but what it is? How can we address it?  And what makes some people more likely to sympathize with the perpetrators of abuse rather than the traumatized victims? One of the big things we're realizing in our launch group for our new book...


We welcome your comments and want this to be a place for healthy discussion. Comments that are rude, profane, or abusive will not be allowed. Comments that are unrelated to the current post may be deleted. Comments above 300 words in length are let through at the moderator’s discretion and may be shortened to the first 300 words or deleted. By commenting you are agreeing to the terms outlined in our comment and privacy policy, which you can read in full here!


  1. Angharad

    Men need to listen to what their wives are really saying?

    Maybe what their wives are saying IS what they are really saying.

    If I’m asking my husband not to walk through the house with his muddy outdoor boots on, I’m asking him not to track mud through the house, not to start ‘leading with courage’.

    If I’m asking my husband to put the milk back in the fridge once he’s used it instead of leaving it out on the counter to turn into cheese, then I’m asking him not to be wasteful of the milk, not to ‘lead with strength’.

    Why on earth is it so hard for these ‘marriage experts’ to realise that women can actually mean what they say. There isn’t necessarily some obscure, hidden message behind ‘please turn your music volume down?’ or ‘could you put your dirty laundry in the basket instead of chucking it on the floor?’

    • Angharad

      (Sorry, I’ll catch up with the rest of the podcast later, but that instagram clip annoyed me soooooo much, I just had to vent!)

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      EXACTLY! That’s what we said in the podcast too. How about just listening to your wife instead of saying, “oh, that’s not what you really mean.”

    • Jane Eyre

      I completely agree. When people insist on looking for “hidden meanings,” they are missing the obvious. It creates huge problems. If you want your husband to put the milk away before it spoils, how else to say that except for “when you are done pouring your glass of milk, please put the milk back in the fridge?” There really isn’t another way to express that concept.

    • Nessie

      It also contributes to rape culture in that it makes men think women don’t “actually” mean what they are saying. Women “want” men to “read between the lines.” If wives say “I’m exhausted and desparately need sleep tonight,” husbands read in, “She’s tired so I need to be more persistent,” etc.

      No. James says let your yes be yes and your non be no. That makes sense to me!

      I think they often want to avoid taking responsibility, too. “Sorry, honey, I’m too busy reading between your lines about how you need me to be a stronger, more courageous leader to actually pick up those wet towels!”

      How about you show me you have the courage and strength to pick up the stinkin’ towels?

      • Angharad

        I also found that when I was younger and single, it made it very hard at social events. I would be very direct with a guy that was showing an interest in me, and tell him that I wasn’t interested in dating, but I’d still get an earful of abuse when I turned down his offer of a date because I’d been ‘leading him on’ by attending group social events that he also attended. When I pointed out that I’d done nothing to encourage him and that I’d actually specifically told him I was not interested in a relationship, I always got the comeback ‘oh, but women never mean what they say’. Um, yes, we do. (And if you truly think I was lying, why, as a Christian guy, are you considering dating me anyway?!!!)

  2. Nathan

    > > Men have more discernment than women

    Obviously, some people have more discernment than others, and some topics may have a gender based trend. That is, sometimes men see some things better and sometimes women see some things better. But it’s all on that bell curve we mention so often.

    > > and women don’t actually know what they want

    I used to believe this. Now I believe that many people (men and women) often have conflicting desires.

  3. Stefanie

    I was thinking about what you were saying about the harmful teachers making tons of money harming people, and I was thinking about Zaccheus and how he made restitution. How amazing would it be if EE and company would publicly apologize and create a fund for therapy for people who were hurt by their teachings?

    Pipe dream, I know. But fun to think about it.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, that would be justice. that’s what they should do. But at this point, I’d be happy if they just went away and stopped. Just stopped.

      • Noel Lokaychuk

        Haha! My eyes are blurry and I read that as “stomped”! I had to go back and check it. Yes, if they would just stomp away!

  4. Jo R

    Do women really want their husbands to be bold, strong, courageous leaders?

    Or do women just want their husbands to stop lagging so far behind their wives on the path of marriage? To just catch up to where the wives are in the relationship? To pay even half as much attention to their wives as they did when the wives were just girlfriends?

    Aren’t guys working hard before marriage? Do they not have to come home when they’re tired, do some cooking, do some cleaning up, do laundry every couple of days, grocery shop on a periodic basis?

    Apparently, “working while married” is more tiring to men than working while single.

    • Serena

      Oh. My gosh. The part where you dissected the toxic marriage advice blew my mind!!
      It shed new light on why my dad would never, ever listen to anything my mom asked if him. He was always trying to figure out how to show my mom he loved her “in a way she could receive it.” But if she told him, “you can show me love by picking up your snack dishes and not sticking your gum to the desk for me to scrape off,” he would purposely do it again right there and then.
      Because he HAD to be the leader, the one in control! He couldn’t show her (or any of us) love by being a decent human being, because then he wasn’t the leader. He needed to make some grand gesture instead, just like you talked about in the podcast!!
      Then, because we came from the charismatic side of evangelicalism, he could add more layers. Because of the Bible verse about believers not fighting against flesh and blood but against principalities and spirits, he would say that any consequences he faced for his actions were a demonic attack. If his wife or daughters “complained,” were angry at him, or were hurt, he’d say it wasn’t really us; it was a spiritual attack. He would rebuke the devil instead of addressing the harm he’d done that was causing our reactions.
      All that is the logical consequence of the toxic marriage advice in that instagram video.

      • Anonymous305

        Your poor mom!! And you ☹️❤️☹️!!

  5. Codec

    I really am curious now about the desire to be a hero and how that plays into what is going on in marriages and society right now.

    I think people get so caught up in hype sometimes that people forget what actually is heroic. For instance Tony Stark sacrificing himself is heroic not because it culminates his character arc or because of how insanely moving it was it was heroic because it was selfless.

    Heroism need not be grandiose. Sometimes heroism is found in just being willing to lend a hand. To use the wet towel example the heroic thing would be to pick up the towels.

    I feel that a lot of men feel as though they have something to prove. I figure a lot of women feel the same way. They want to leave something behind that will outlive them.

    • Willow

      With all due respect, I don’t want to be a hero.

      I just want to get through the day.

      I think a lot of women are in the same mental place.

      • Codec

        That is entirely fair.

  6. Laura

    Excellent podcast as always! When you and Keith were talking about that Instagram video where the bearded man suggests that maybe wives what their husbands to lead with courage, strength, and boldness, I was thinking of some Christian books out there that still perpetuate this message. I haven’t read Finding the Hero in Your Husband by Juli Slattery, but I’ve read several books by her and used to read her blog. She’s a psychologist and a complementarian. Then, of course, we all know about Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. In Captivating, they (most likely John) talk about how boys want “a beauty to rescue.” There’s that hero complex syndrome (not sure if that’s a thing or if I just made it up). So, really the “Christian” advice to get husbands to step up (or get wet towels off the bed) is to treat them like they’re heroes. Um, Jesus is my hero. Yes, people do heroic things, but I am not going to worship my husband (when I get one).

    I agree with you all about not supporting an organization that has put out harmful teachings even if there are some good ones. Unknowingly, I’ve read books that Focus on the Family (FOTF) has supported. If I know that FOTF endorses or supports something, I am skeptical. When it comes to churches, that’s a harder one for me because I don’t think I will ever agree with everything from every church. Thankfully, in the last few years, the harmful stuff I have heard did not come from the pulpit, it came from women’s Bible studies which I try to avoid. Currently, I am going to a small women’s Bible study about the book of Luke. Now if this was going to be a study on “biblical womanhood” or marriage, I would skip it.

    • Joy

      I am struggling with this also. Oddly I spent years attending, serving at and giving to the church that is the church home of the Baird sisters who started Girl Defined ministries. I remember when they launched and their presentation at the church service. I now know how damaging they are, but it is difficult to square the positive experiences I had at that church with the reality that the leadership supported that ministry. I met and worked with so many wonderful people, and many people there did not hold their fringe views. Occasionally even more conservative people would attend events with friends. I think it was all linked to that Vision Forum stuff taking place in the area. This is what made me consider a post or two ago that, depending on how influential these families are at a church, it may be hard for otherwise great church leaders to have a change of heart and discontinue harmful teachings. The opinions are also less likely to be shared from the pulpit but more likely to be shared at a small group in certain congregations. I have warm feelings about so much of my time there and got some great advice from older mentors that was nothing at all like anything GD would say, so they don’t represent what the church stood for in my life at the time. But still—how to square it? It’s unsettling.

      • Anonymous305

        That is so confusing!! Reminds me of how I was going to leave evangelicalism, but found some super great people who attend an evangelical church, so now I’m on the fence. Maybe, I should build a hammock stand on the fence and take a nap.

  7. Mara R

    They could retire, those marriage snake oil sales people.
    But as long as there is money to be made, I’m not holding my breath. It’s hard to start over.

    Hopefully their business will just dry up to the point where the really stubborn ones will be driven into forced retirement.

  8. Nessie

    Just an FYI, both the Limited Edition Merch “See the (raccoon/crap) Collection links just go back to this post.

    • Anonymous305

      That parody is awesome!! And she just wants him to wash the dishes!! Pobrecita!!

  9. Nessie

    What if we talked about men criticizing and complaining about sex not happening often enough with the same tenacity that men claim women criticize and complain about tasks that don’t get done? And what should we read into their complaints- what are they *really* saying to us? Perhaps they really want us to reorganize their tool boxes, or pack scented air fresheners in their hunting clothes, or maybe he really just wants a long, emotional talk with no touching.

    (Yes, there are great guys that actually would want to talk to their wives- not my experience, but glad they exist elsewhere- but I also doubt it is the same guys complaining about their critical, complaining wives.)

  10. Anonymous305

    Ermaigrsh!!!! This totally reminds me of a conversation that I had with a friend a few years ago!!!! I told her that my husband wanted to be a hero outside the home, but not inside. He wouldn’t wash dishes or vacuum without expecting a reward from me, but he was helping a single mom and wanted to adopt a kid from a troubled home.

    I was angry at how that would affect my education, but it took awhile to admit to myself that I was angry, because I thought I was being selfish. Later, he was upset that I didn’t trust him to share in the childcare, because apparently, I was supposed to assume that he’d do all the childcare except cleaning. I wasn’t willing to find out what he would do, so we didn’t adopt. I’m extra glad with that decision now, because divorce.

    My mom’s response was the best. Basically, don’t adopt a kid because your husband is a kid.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, that sounds really awful. Why don’t so many guys see the problem?

      • Anonymous305


  11. Nathan

    Maybe many people are still stuck in the idea that men work OUTSIDE the home, and women work INSIDE the home. Then combine this with the idea that with kids, men are distant and abstract, sometimes lecturing and giving out advice, but with whe wife doing most of the heavy lifting.

    • Willow

      Except studies show that even when women earn MORE outside the home, they still have to do MORE housework/childcare inside the home.

      It’s no wonder a lot of women are exhausted.

  12. Anonymous Girl

    I just want to let you guys know how awesome you are and what an amazing blessing you all are to the body of Christ. Keep doing what you’re doing. It’s absolutely incredible. God really dropped a truth bomb on the evangelical world and it was through you!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you so much!

  13. Lisa Johns

    Here’s an interesting (to your hopes regarding authors who got it wrong) passage from the ACA code of Ethics regarding published research: “If counselors [or researchers] discover significant errors in their published research, they take reasonable steps to correct such errors in a correction erratum or through other appropriate publication means.” Such as withdrawing books from publication and publicly stating that you were wrong and working to correct misinformation.
    Regarding misrepresentation of qualifications (such as from Harvard, ahem): “Counselors [and researchers] practice only within the boundaries of their competence, based on their education, training, supervised experience, state and national professional credentials, and appropriate professional experience.” In other words, if you have a degree in economics, don’t represent yourself as a trained researcher.
    So several of these authors can realistically be accused of acting both unprofessionally AND unethically. And it’s a bad reflection on churches and organizations that platform them.

  14. Joe


    Thank you for your books and speaking out on these issues. I recently after 12 years of marriage found out my wife had been groomed as a 13/14 year old by a 21 year old church youth group leader, who under the guise of wanting to marry her, groomed her into a secret relationship, where he would drive her home after youth group, and stop off and have her perform oral sex on him by forcibly holding her head down there and more.

    My wife developed early and was treated like his sexual release, whilst she believed he loved her and was going to marry her. This occured for nearly 2 years.

    It ended with him getting engaged to an older girl and at 15 she was devastated and she always believed it was her fault and she carried the guilt and shame, which pushed her away from God and into the arms of other abusive men (all in the church), another one who then took her virginity.

    A few years later she got counselling and was told it was her fault because of how she dressed! It should have been reported to the police.

    This guy was a pastors son also!

    She carried guilt and shame and to this day does not see herself as a victim, but responsible for what happened ( even though she was a classic example of being groomed).

    In my opinion, this guy belongs in jail, but my wife doesn’t want to do anything about it, which I have to respect.

    Ironically we met after she was with a non Christian, and we fell in love and I was the first Christian man in her life to love and respect her and show her true love. And in that she came back to God.

    And we have a great marriage in all areas, but this just kills me what happened to her inside the one place it shouldn’t,church youth group.

    And that I can do nothing to bring to light the crime that was committed.

    Pastors kids are some of the worst offenders in this area. Is it a wonder so many have left the church?

    These books have helped us greatly, in particular with our daughter, whom as she heads into the teenage years, we hope to give her the tools she needs to identify these predators, who seduce vulnerable girls within the church walls as ‘Christians”.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *